As a runner, I often get asked how I did on a particular run or race. I find such questions vexing, because success in running is extremely relative. A 44-minute 10K would be a disaster for many runners, but for me it would be personal best. Getting on the medal stand at Pella’s Klompen Classic was an annual goal of mine when we lived in the States, and it took hard work to accomplish it. For some this would be a big accomplishment, for others it would be insignificant compared to big races like the Boston Marathon. Success is not only relative in running, its relative in life. An Iowa real estate agent may be thrilled with moving $2 million in real estate in a quarter, as that would likely mean they sold many homes. A California agent, however, may be disappointed, as $2 million can represent only one or two sales in the crazy California market.
What is my point with all this? It is to help us realize that we often measure success against the wrong measuring stick. Everyone has been created and gifted differently, and thusly our maximum results will always be different. What matters most is that we do the most with the talents, time, treasure, and gifts God has given us. Not everyone is going to start a church, become a missionary, lead a huge ministry program, etc. And guess what: that’s ok! If those are not your gifts, then you should not be doing them. If those are your gifts, then you should. Here is what I’ve realized is the real measuring stick for success in life: whether or not your life evidences the Fruit of the Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26
This passage presents a radically different concept of success from the one the world typically sells us. The focus is not on the number of good actions we do or how we stack up to others. Rather, Paul teaches that a life lived successfully for God will CONSTANTLY bear the following fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Far too often, we fail to live lives focused on bearing these fruits. We focus so much on numeric successes that we forget to live every moment focused on living for God. My challenge to us today is to pause and evaluate the lives we are living. Is our life bearing fruit? If not, what needs to change? pray that each of us can take a moment to refocus our lives this week in order that we may live lives that bear a powerful harvest for God.